The life changing magic of shutting up

Here’s a secret the people who run social media networks don’t want you to know—the one thing you can do to mess up their entire plan.

You can, if you want to, shut the fuck up.

It turns out, when something big happens in the news, you don’t have to react to it. You are not a politician, or a pundit, a fact that you should be grateful for every single day of your life. Do you think any of those people are emotionally well adjusted? They’re not. You can can be, though. You can shut the fuck up. You’re free.

No one is waiting to hear what you have to say; no one will criticize you for not having a take on whatever new thing is happening now. Talking about current events is not your job. You have the incredible freedom of not saying anything.

Do not misunderstand me: I am not saying that you shouldn’t talk, or that it’s bad to talk. Sometimes using your influence can have a very real effect. But you can’t be an expert on everything, and the great thing is no one is expecting you to. I, as a professional internet person, hereby free you from the burden of having to talk about issues you only sort of understand. You can, instead—if you want to—take the time to become informed before expressing an opinion. You can choose to only talk about the things you’re knowledgeable of and passionate about. These are options.

Even more revolutionary: you don’t have to talk about everything on corporate owned social media networks at all, if you don’t want to. You can talk to people in group texts, populated only by people you are choosing to talk to. Or in coffee shops, bars, parks, or a public library. You can talk about things in the living room of your best friend. There are so many options.

You can use your conversations to connect with your friends in such a way that isn’t monetized or interrupted by bad-faith trolls. You can—if you want to!—just be a person. It’s an option.


  1. @JustinPot

    "Pundit" isn't an actual job either. It's the person who, in earlier times, would have been the "village know-it-all-gossip" and who was universally reviled for it. Always thinking they know more and know better than anyone else. Nope. Pundit isn't a real job. A pundit is just a sad loser who is, alone, in love with their own voice.

    1. You’re right. Also, thanks for replying. Is it cool if I use a screenshot of this in an article on Lifehacker? I’m trying to demonstrate how the ActivityPub feature in WordPress works. Totally cool if you’d rather not…

  2. @JustinPot That's worth a boost and an amen. I hate a certain politician as much as it's possible to hate anyone, but my outrage receptors are numbed by years of his shit. I'd rather talk about something, anything, else.

  3. This is so apt, Em. Posting about an issue on X is like an incantation, or a prayer.

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